Our midweek racing is bolstered and considerably brightened by the running of the R125 000 Listed Michaelmas Handicap over 1900m at Clairwood on Wednesday. While jockey Anton Marcus may hold the upper hand on the mercurial Roman Wall, Alec Laird’s fast improving Pessoa may be good enough to take his next step up the ladder.
The frustrating financial and emotional woes suffered in the recent past by Roman Wall’s loyal supporters have been well documented in these pages. Sean Tarry’s good-looking Count Dubois gelding cost a fortune as a youngster and has oodles of ability, but has frankly long run out of excuses in a game which amazingly tends to forgive and forget. But this fellow has pushed the envelope.
Wednesday could be Roman Wall’s day though, as Anton Marcus rides him for the first time and our champion jockey has a way of extricating the optimum effort out of talented equine layabouts. In a small field his draw of 1 won’t be a dealmaker, but every little bit counts.
Last Saturday’s Emerald Cup washout denied us further opportunity of establishing some collateral confidence to boost Roman Wall’s claims. He was runner-up at his last start to the very smart In A Rush, who was to have run in Africa’s richest sand contest. That didn’t happen though, as well all know. In A Rush is on his way South to Cape Town, and we are none the wiser.
But looking at Roman Wall’s generally consistent form and some of his better efforts – including a good fifth in the Schweppes 2200 – then Roman Wall looks the right selection.
And considering minor collateral of Top Mark and Ice Diamond, who both ran behind Roman Wall in that MR 100 Handicap, then the Tarry runner has a few of these held and has always looked to have something better than the bread and butter fare in him. And as a R2 million purchase, one would like to believe that this Listed feature is well within his scope.
Tarry also sends out Kolkata, a solid staying sort who will probably find this too short, and appears unlikely to have the toe to get the better of the more accomplished middle distance sorts.
Never Say Die
The biggest threat to Roman Wall could come from another Gautenger. Alec Laird’s KZN Sattelite yard has been in hot form of late, and the quietly spoken trainer sends out a coupling of Pessoa and Roll Count.
The grey Go Deputy gelding Pessoa just seems to get better run by run. He goes for a fourth win in a row, the last two under Stuart Randolph, who rides him here. Pessoa is very different in physical make-up to Roman Wall. He is a pretty non-flashy grey, who races handy and puts his head down when necessary as he just keeps powering on.
One concern in Pessoa’s case is obviously the fact that he tries this trip for the first time, and his style of racing would suggest that he is going to have to be sat on a little longer and ridden with more restraint.
The second of the Laird runners is Roll Count, who should need the run after a break over almost 5 months. He is a powerful front-runner, who has an impressive record of 6 wins from 17 starts. He reeled off four in a row late last year, and is loaded with ability.
Yogas Govender’s Danish Silver won this event in 2009, and while now an 8yo has lost little of his zest for racing.
The son of Silvano will be partnered again by Donovan Dillon who won on him over the course and distance at his last start, just over a month ago. He moved up smoothly there to beat De La Danza going away by one length.
Admittedly there was not too much in the way of inspiring ability following in his wake, but it was a timeous return to form for his assault on the delayed Michaelmas double.
Garth Puller’s Ice Diamond last won in June, when he got up under 61kgs to beat Barney Barnato over the Clairwood 2000m. He was outclassed in the Schweppes 2200, but has produced two fringe efforts in lesser company at his last two outings. He should be fighting fit going in here, and could be the surprise package.
Lion In Winter is a talented individual on his day, but has gone off the boil since his flying fourth only two lengths behind Chesalon in the Gr2 Premier’s Trophy, way back in December last year.
His six starts since have all been at Group level and he has not sparked at all. He had his last start some two months ago in the Gr2 Schweppes 2200 on July Day, when running a dismal fifteen lengths off Tribal Dance. Joey Ramsden’s charge lumps topweight of 62kgs as the class horse in the race, and must have a place prospect if returning to anything near his better form.
Mike Bass’ New Zealand bred Golden Parachute has always been regarded as an out-and-out stayer, but ran on smartly at his last outing over 1950m. He dashed through late for third on slightly soft going, to finish 2,25 lengths behind Dennis Drier’s Top Mark, and had Ice Diamond, from whom he was getting 2kgs, 0,75 lengths behind.The two meet on the same weight terms, and there should not be much between them again.
The six-time victor Eton Mess was a shock winner of his penultimate start and then ran a fair fifth five lengths behind Kolkato over 2400m last time.
Fourth Estate steps up in class and this two-time winner ran on steadily when running fourth 6,25 lengths behind the promising Ice Machine in an MR 93 Handicap over a mile at Scottsville at his last outing. He is a horse that was quietly highly regarded and thought of after his maiden win. He has probably been an overall disappointment though and would be a surprise winner.
Corinne Bestel sends out the Two Oceans Racing coupling of Sun City and Posh Boy. Both would probably prefer a further 400m at least, and neither have sparked since their relocation from the Western Cape.
The race presents Roman Wall with an ideal opportunity to redeem his flagging reputation and register a confidence boosting victory. He will have to be at his best though to peg back the powerful little grey bomber Pessao, who doesn’t give up without a blow or two being exchanged. Anton Marcus will give Roman Wall every chance and more from the saddle though.
The former Michaelmas winner Danish Silver and Puller’s Ice Machine may be the best of the rest.